At the ‘Pinnacle’ of building in Summit County

Jessica Smith
Special to the Daily
Fenneman Residence, High Aspen Ranch, Carbondale, CO
Copyright 2011 Darren Edwards | Copyright 2011 Darren Edwards

When Chris Renner started Pinnacle Mountain Homes in 2005, he was a relative newcomer to the home construction business, with a background in technology and management consulting. However, that didn’t stop his company from quickly doubling in size to become one of the most prolific builders in the county, as well as named in Inc. magazine’s 2011 list of fastest-growing private companies and awarded Builder Magazine’s America’s Best Builder in 2012.

A new business model

Renner wasn’t interested in following the usual business method, instead deciding to create his own, using his years as a business consultant in Breckenridge to form the basis of his new company. Much of that involved helping companies integrate technology into their business plan.

“I recognized that the entire construction industry had the opportunity for a next-generation business model to lead the way into the future with technology and communication,” Renner said.

In addition to technological savvy, Renner’s business strategy relies on open and transparent communication with the client. Pinnacle uses a cost-plus service model and provides clients with copies of every receipt, invoice and expense.

In 2005, its first year, the company built three homes. It built seven the next, then nine, then 10 and so on. It continued to grow despite the economic downswing.

“We grew right through the recession,” Renner said, “and what we were doing really resonated with the clients that we met with, because they appreciated the communication and the transparency and the management side that we brought to construction.”

Renner credits the company’s success during that time to an increase in efficiency, particularly on the construction side. While most companies build a home in 10 to 12 months, Pinnacle’s production time took only nine months. They did this by partnering with their subcontractors and other businesses they worked with to improve their efficiency.

“If we can help them streamline their business, then everybody wins,” Renner said, “and we’re building homes for less money than any other builder in the county, so I think that became a very attractive model.”

With this model, Pinnacle has continued to grow and, with the economy turning around, to thrive.

“Things are turning up. The industry is back,” Renner said. “It looks like there are probably 30 percent more custom homes being built this year than last year.”

A more holistic approach

Pinnacle’s success hasn’t made Renner complacent, or kept him from expanding into new markets. In the fall of last year, Pinnacle acquired Breckenridge property management company Visit Breck, extending its reach into the lodging market.

The reason for this move lies behind the desire to reach more people.

“We’ve been building these wonderful luxury homes and really they’re only accessible to the few that can afford to build a luxury home like that,” Renner said, “but as we expand that into renting homes, all of a sudden, a touch of luxury is accessible to vacationers and second homeowners alike.”

Renner’s vision for Pinnacle is a more holistic approach, embracing not only custom home clients but people who want to enjoy a custom home in the mountains, even if it’s just for a few days or weeks.

“It was a natural transition for us to try to help serve all of the other vacationers and tourists who come to enjoy our town and our county,” he explained, “so moving into the lodging business allows us to be (involved in that).”

Currently, Pinnacle rents and manages more than 100 properties in Breckenridge. These properties are all single-family homes, rather than condominiums.

Renner has big plans for Visit Breck, just as he did with Pinnacle.

“We expect to double over the next two years,” he said. If the past is any indication of the future, it’s a highly likely possibility.

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